Late July means that arbitration news begins trickling out. Last summer, no players actually went to arbitration. All 21 settled with their teams before the two sides met in a Toronto conference room to argue their case.
Twenty players elected arbitration this summer, and three others are heading there because of their clubs.
On Monday, Vladimir Sobotka was the first player to have his hearing. Of course, Sobotka wasn’t there, as he signed a three-year deal to play with Omsk of the KHL. He was, however, awarded a one-year contract for $2.725 million, which will be honored if he ever returns to the NHL.
Sobotka’s KHL deal includes an opt-out clause after each season beginning next summer.
“We are looking forward to having Vladimir in a Blues uniform when he returns to the NHL,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. “We wish him the best of luck in the upcoming season.”
While Sobotka’s hearing was initiated by the Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson was one of three players to decide to take his team to arbitration. But hours before his hearing was to begin the two sides agreed upon a one-year, $3.3 million, according to the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons.
Franson, who had asked for a $4.2 million award, will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Now comes the question of does the team move him before the trade deadline? This is the third straight one-year deal for him and after holding out at the beginning of last season, the end is near for this relationship.
The summer’s most interesting arbitration hearing will be Ryan O’Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche. Given the lack of progress on new deal, there is a very slim chance something is hammered out before Wednesday's meeting.
According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, O’Reilly submitted an award of $6.75 million, while the Avalanche countered with $5.525 million, almost $1 million less than what he made in 2013-14.
The arbitrator has to award O’Reilly something that’s at least 85-percent what his salary was last season ($6.5 million). The lowest amount he can award? $5.525 million. The Avs see that as a raise since the AAV of his previous deal -- you know, the offer sheet he signed with Calgary -- amounted to $5 million in each of the past two seasons.
Since the team elected arbitration, O’Reilly was able to select either a one- or two-year deal. He chose the one-year option. This relationship will be fascinating to watch this season.
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